google-site-verification: google36bd47c9456e9204.html
top of page

Can Home Fitness Replace the Gym?

The coronavirus pandemic has forced more people to partake in home workouts, whether as a replacement for those all-important steps, to start a fitness journey they’ve previously not had time for, or as a way of remaining relatively sane during lockdown. Whatever reason people have been working out for, it’s been helping to keep the nation fit, both physically and mentally, during one of the most stressful periods in modern history.

Of course, home fitness isn’t a new phenomenon. It’s been a fixture in many households for decades, with Lycra-clad stars like Jane Fonda and Olivia Newton-John shimmying across our screens in their leg warmers in the 80s. Mr. Motivator (also lycra-clad) took over the indoor fitness baton in the 90s, while in the 00s, workout DVDs became a hallmark of nearly every successful reality TV star.

Today, the indoor workout has risen to the fore again, this time for bleaker reasons. The coronavirus pandemic has forced us to stay inside – our pilates, yoga and HIIT classes now take place via Zoom, YouTube or Instagram Lives. The outbreak has left a trail of destruction across multiple industries, such as oil, gas and tourism, in its wake - not to mention the global stock market crash. The British fitness industry, valued at £5 billion, has also been hit hard.

It’s important to recognise how big this sector is; there are over 7,000 fitness centres and around 14.2 per cent of British adults hold a gym membership. Under government guidelines, gyms have been shut since late March, prompting fitness experts and instructors to evolve and push the boundaries of what is possible on a virtual level.

Instagram is currently rife with influencers posting home fitness content, personal trainers holding Zoom classes and gyms hosting online sessions on their websites and social channels. The fitness company Beachbody has reportedly seen a 200 per cent growth in subscribers; that’s 1.5 million subscribers in just a matter of months - but how will this all affect the industry post-lockdown?

A government YouGov report predicts that only 30 percent of people will return to gym classes once they reopen, but I disagree. More people will continue to work out at home in their spare time, especially with their children, and online sessions will likely be an additional offering from gyms and personal trainers moving forward as they cast their nets wider. But the live experience of a gym class, a one-to-one PT session or working out on the gym floor, is irreplaceable.

Humans are competitive by nature and group settings can lead to positive competitiveness, due to something called The Köhler Effect– this is the idea that nobody wants to be the weakest link in the group and that they will push themselves harder when surrounded by people who are fitter than them.

Research published in the Journal of Social Sciences showed that the healthy actions of others rub off on us, this includes exercise and the tendency to be inspired by the behaviours of others around us – like peers in the gym. Classes like Spin, Aerobics, CrossFit and Bootcamp all have a tribe-like feel about them – there’s an infectious communal energy and you’re all in it together, no matter what your fitness level. Gyms have an almost ‘family’ feel to them when you attend regularly.

One-to-one training is also so much more effective in the gym, because while you can do training over Zoom or Skype – there’s a barrier between you and your trainer; the energy is different and it’s harder for them to correct your posture, which increases your chances of injury. We cannot physically correct you over the internet.

The layout of a gym floor, designed to make it easier to form a routine, can’t be accurately replicated in the same way at home. All the cardio equipment is in one area, the weights are in another, resistance machines in another – so you can create your own little circuits and add to them each time or remove the things you don’t enjoy. The latter is particularly important, as forcing yourself to do the exercises you hate will only fuel those negative feelings associated with fitness.

Alternatively, if you decided you only want to do strength training, you know which area to go to; if you only want to do cardio that day, you can go to that area – it helps you to break down your workout into sections, so it doesn’t feel like a daunting venture.

Gyms and physical classes also help you to focus properly. I’ve found on my virtual training sessions with clients in their homes, that they’ve stopped to talk to their children or partners, they’ve taken a break to get water (in a gym you typically carry a bottle), or answer the phone – in the gym, you have no excuse but to give 110 per cent to your workout.

Home fitness has piqued the interest of those who may not have had an active workout routine before, by way of keeping them fit and sane during a challenging time. Newfound indoor workouts also help in keeping our immune systems boosted, ready to fight any potential health battles.

The latter is particularly important, especially as we prepare to face the world again. Research shows that less than 60-minutes of exercise a day enhances the circulation of immunoglobins, natural killer (NK) cells, T cells and other immune cells that play critical roles in the body’s defence against pathogens and can help reduce inflammation.

An analysis of randomised controlled trials conducted as part of the same review found that people partaking in long-term moderate exercise programs - ranging eight weeks to one year -saw a lower occurrence and duration of upper respiratory tract infections, with reductions as high as 40-50 per cent among people who were active on a daily basis.

There’s no question that home fitness has played a vitally important role during the past few months in keeping the country healthy and steering us towards a healthier way living – hopefully for the long haul – but there will come a time when people want to up the ante and push themselves further; fine hone their technique, or make use of professional equipment that isn’t feasible (or cost-effective) to have in their homes.

Indoor workouts offer people a leg-up in their fitness journeys, where they can follow professional advice in the comfort of their own homes – in turn, boosting their confidence. As a personal trainer, the number one reason I have experienced in why people put off going to the gym is lack of confidence – they’ve already formed a negative association with the exercise before they’ve even started.

This is on top of low self-esteem, which may have been the reason for wanting to embark on a fitness journey in the first place. My hope is that the exercise routines the public have developed at home will help them to see the gym as just a more effective way of them continuing their newfound fitness habits in a more effective way. Hopefully, this will breakdown some of the anxiety and insecurities people have around gyms.

Humans are social beings and naturally thrive on collective consciousness and collective experiences. As we look ahead, people will seek to recapture the vital social interaction we have missed over the course of the pandemic. Our love for home fitness will work in tandem with gyms – the two make a powerful team.

7 views0 comments


bottom of page